Opening the floodgates to imported eggs from battery hens post-Brexit would be a ‘national disgrace’, according to the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC).
BEIC and Compassion in World Farming have warned battery eggs could be ‘back on the menu’ in a no-deal Brexit unless the Government acts to protect UK consumers.
While the Government has pledged protection for sheep meat, beef, poultry, dairy and pig meat, it risked a ‘devastating blow to the egg industry’ and to British consumers by refusing to confirm protection on eggs and egg products.
BEIC Chairman, Andrew Joret said: “It would be a national disgrace if the Government were to remove tariffs to allow eggs into this country which do not meet even the most basic of welfare standards.
“It is 7 years since we banned barren battery cages in the UK and consumers would justifiably feel betrayed if this were to happen.”
BEIC was urgently seeking assurances from the Government to stop consumers being exposed to eggs and egg products from non-EU countries, including the USA, Ukraine, India and Argentina, where animal welfare standards are significantly lower.
Peter Stevenson, chief policy advisor at CIWF, urged the Government to place tariffs on imported eggs in the event of a no-deal otherwise eggs and egg products from battery hens could flood the market and undermine farmers.
“If the Government fails to protect UK farmers from cheap, low welfare imports, it will be impossible for it to honour its commitment to using Brexit to achieve gold standard levels of animal welfare.”
Mr Joret added removing tariffs and giving the greenlight to these products would be ‘an insult to British consumers’.
“The Government cannot let our consumers and farmers down in this way and needs to act now to ensure that we maintain the standards that consumers expect in the UK.”